LARAMIE, Wyo. -
It’s a Border War of the northern variety on Sunday when the University of Wyoming men’s basketball team faces off with Montana State in Billings, Mont. Tip between the Cowboys (2-1) and Bobcats (2-2) is set for 2 p.m. MT in Rimrock Auto Arena, as the two programs renew a long history of neutral-site contests. It’s the first of two meetings between the squads next week, as Montana State travels to Laramie on Saturday.
Fans can follow live stats, audio and video of the game through the men’s basketball Gameday Central page on GoWYO.com. The contest will be broadcast on the radio by the Cowboy Sports Network.
A Look at the Matchup
Wyoming and head coach Larry Shyatt are 2-1 on the season after an 83-67 win over New Mexico Highlands last Thursday in the Arena-Auditorium. The Cowboys led by as many as 25 points in the first half, before NMHU pulled back within 10 with three minutes left. Wyoming would close the game on an 11-5 run, though, to earn its 14th-straight nonconference win in the building. Wyoming held NMHU scoreless for the first six minutes of the contest to help amass a 25-point lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. The Pokes shot 51 percent (30-of-59) from the field and 33 percent (10-of-30) beyond the arc, as Wyoming has attempted 30 threes in both games this season. The 10 made threes were UW’s most since the same amount at Colorado State on Feb. 22, 2014. The Cowboys committed just four turnovers and have just 13 total in two games this season, while adding 17 assists on 30 made field goals. Wyoming’s 6.5 turnovers per game this season rank first in the Mountain West and second in the NCAA, while its plus 2.0 assist-turnover ratio leads the conference and is 13th nationally.
Brian Fish is in his second season at the helm for Montana State. He welcomes back three starters from a team that went 7-23 last season, including 4-14 in the Big Sky Conference, and has started 2015-16 with a 2-2 mark. The Bobcats played three games in three days in Hawai’i on Nov. 13-15. MSU lost to Hawai’i, 87-76, the first day, before beating UH-Hilo, 90-85, the next day and losing to Nevada, 83-62, the final day. Most recently, the Bobcats earned an 81-69 home win over San Jose State last Friday. MSU led by 11 points at halftime and as many as 18 late in the second half, while shooting 46 percent (25-of-54) from the field and 42 percent (8-of-19) from deep. The Bobcats earned a 45-25 advantage on the boards. Overall, Montana State averages 77.2 points per game on 44 percent from the field and 38 percent beyond the arc, while allowing 81.0 points per game on 49 and 32 percent, respectively. MSU owns a plus 4.5 rebounding margin, but a minus 5.2 turnover margin on the season.
Each Team’s Leaders
Senior guard Josh Adams amassed a season-high 26 points against NMHU last Thursday for his 60th career game in double figures and 13th with more than 20. The preseason All-MW pick has averaged 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds 5.0 assists through Wyoming’s two games this season to rank third in the MW in points and second in assists. Junior guard Jason McManamen adds 9.0 points and 2.5 rebounds, as he is one of six Cowboys with multiple threes on the season. Sophomore forward Alan Herndon adds 5.5 points per contest, while fellow sophomore forward Jonathan Barnes contributes 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jeremy Lieberman made his first start of the season against NMHU and is second on the team at 2.5 assists per game. Redshirt sophomore guard Trey Washington III and freshman guard Justin James came off the bench against NMHU for 14 and 12 points, respectively. Nine Cowboys played at least 13 minutes versus NMHU.
Montana State is paced by senior guard Marcus Colbert at 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The preseason All-BSC selection notched 27 points, six assists and four steals against San Jose State last Friday. Freshman guard Tyler Hall adds 12.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists, while senior forward Danny Robison rounds out MSU’s double-figure scorers at 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. Robison is shooting 52 percent from the field this season, including 56 percent from deep. Colbert, Hall, Robison and sophomore guard Zach Green have started all four games for the Bobcats this season. Green contributes 9.0 points and 4.0 boards per game. Sophomore forward Tyson Kanseyo started in place of junior center Shy Blake against SJSU. Kanseyo averages 2.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per contest.
About the Series
The Cowboys and Bobcats meet in Billings for the first time since 2006 on Sunday, but it is hardly the first neutral-site contest between the two. Wyoming owns a 43-11 overall lead in the series with Montana State, including 29-3 on neutral courts, and has won 16 of the last 17 games between the two. In the last meeting, Wyoming earned a 61-51 road win at Bozeman, Mont., on Dec. 23, 2014.
Wyoming plays its second of three games next week when the Cowboys host CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Arena-Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Wyoming Athletics Ticket Office at 877-WYO-FAN1 (877-996-3261) or online at GoWYO.com.